The 49ers didn't trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and now they get to face him. Right away.
The Steelers have acquired Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins for multiple draft picks, including Pittsburgh's 2020 first-round draft pick, the team announced Tuesday morning.
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news Monday night, citing league sources. The defensive back recently demanded a trade out of Miami after the Dolphins were outscored 102-10 over the first two weeks of the season.
TRADE: Steelers are trading a 2020 first-round pick to the Dolphins for DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, league sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 17, 2019
The trade comes at an especially inopportune time for San Francisco, as it ends the 49ers' pursuit of Fitzpatrick, if there even was one. But more to the point, now San Francisco will get a first-hand look at the former first-round draft pick in its very next game when the Steelers visit this weekend.
The No. 11 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Fitzpatrick was taken two picks after San Francisco selected offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey at No. 9. He has the ability to play both cornerback and safety, and that versatility would have been very useful in the 49ers' defensive backfield, had they been willing to pay the price required.
With Fitzpatrick now headed to Pittsburgh, Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey becomes the most coveted defensive back available on the trade block, after the Jaguars cornerback similarly demanded a trade Monday. Both Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon have played well over the course of San Francisco's 2-0 start, but like Fitzpatrick, Ramsey would present an upgrade -- and also likely cost a first-round draft pick, at least.
The 49ers previously sent away their own 2020 second-round draft pick in the trade that brought Dee Ford over from Kansas City. San Francisco has placed a high value on draft selections ever since the beginning of the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch regime, but given the 49ers' fast start and suddenly steep trajectory, perhaps it's time to consider using those draft selections to acquire more established commodities.
San Francisco suddenly has a need for an offensive tackle in the wake of Joe Staley's broken fibula. Whether it's an offensive lineman or an All-Pro defensive back, the 49ers should be thinking long and hard about pursuing some players that would undeniably improve their team, both in the immediate and the long-term future.